Lawmakers reach deal on statewide paid family leave insurance program
As reported by the Everett Herald this morning, lawmakers and a small group of employer and worker negotiators have reached agreement in Olympia on a paid family leave insurance proposal that, if passed, would make Washington the sixth state in the nation to have an operating paid family leave program. While the legislation has not been drafted or introduced yet, details from the agreement include universal coverage for workers, paid leave for both individual disability and family leave, up to a combined total of 16-18 weeks of possible leave in a benefit period, FMLA job retention rules, a premium split between employers and employees, and an option for self-insurance for companies to offer the benefit themselves. Given the intersection with disability and leave of absence management, as well as the option for self-insurance, we'll be watching this one closely as it develops. For more preliminary details, read the Herald article, or contact Kris Tefft.
Weyerhaeuser appeal heard in Supreme Court this week
On Tuesday, the Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Street v. Weyerhaeuser, the case raising for the first time the issue whether expert medical testimony is required in an occupational disease claim to establish the "arising naturally out of employment" prong of the occupational disease statute. We had previously reported on the amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief WSIA submitted on our behalf along with six other statewide employer organizations arguing in favor of an expert testimony standard. Ar argument, our take was that Weyerhaeuser's attorney had to deal with some skeptical questioning from a high court that is notoriously pro-claimant in workers' compensation matters. For more on the argument as well as a link to stream a video of it, click on our blog post here.
Registration opened on WSIA's first "RTW Summit"
Earlier this week, we announced that we are holding a first time event for us on July 28th, called the "Return to Work Summit: An Insider's Guide to Vocational Rehabilitation in Washington." Held all day at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, the agenda pulls together some of our community's top vocational service providers along with some employers to discuss numerous aspects of return to work and quality vocational services, including ethics and professional responsibility for rehabilitation professionals. We think this will be a great workshop for voc providers themselves, but also for all workers' comp claims professionals. Take a look at the program details and agenda here, and get your registrations in - the auditorium has limited seating. Contact Patrick Koenig for more information.
WCAC to meet next week
The state's Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee holds its summer quarterly meeting next Thursday, June 22nd from 9:00 a.m. to Noon at the L&I field office in Tukwila. The agenda will an include a new presentation on the state of Centers of Occupational Health and Education (COHE) model, and the best practices pilots being run in them. The Department will also solicit feedback on how injured workers get their information from and communicate with the Department. WCAC meetings are open to the public and interested WSIA members are encouraged to attend.
On the blog: OSHA and state safety regulation in the early Trump era
New on the blog this week, we've posted a piece taking notice of the fact that, with OSHA leadership in some flux amidst the change of presidential administrations, and with a more employer-friendly tone being set in the US Department of Labor, it may be that states like California, Washington, and others rush in to fill perceived gaps in workplace safety regulation. Take a look.
Labor & Industries sponsors free training on the new FCE
The Department of Labor & Industries is making a series of changes and updates to the Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), and is holding a 90 minute free webinar repeating in June, July, and August to provide information on the update. Check here for more information and to register.